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Consumer group tells the FCC to withdraw its rulemaking on the broadcast flag

A consumer group wants the FCC to withdraw its rulemaking on the broadcast flag.

The Consumer Federation of America said that because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday, which upheld the consumer's right to make copies of digital content, the FCC has no reason to continue with flag rulemaking.

In the case, U.S. v. Elcomsoft, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that consumers have the right to make copies of digital content they have legally obtained for use in legal ways, such as making back-ups or copies for use at a later time, to share with a family member, or to view on any device. Companies also have the right to manufacture and distribute hardware and software that supports these legal rights, according to the ruling.

The CFA said because of the ruling, the FCC should drop the flag rulemaking issue. Under the FCC's broadcast flag proposal, equipment manufacturers would be forced to include a "flag reader" in every device that prevents or controls copying.

The CFA said law-abiding citizens will find that their legitimate fair use rights have been destroyed and the functionality of their devices restricted. Users may subject themselves to an intrusive and offensive regime of pre-authorization for use. In fact, the CFA said, because the approach taken by the industry assumes all consumers are criminal, the flag will pervasively limit the proper fair use of legally obtained content while doing little to deter large-scale piracy.

Imposing a broadcast flag would only double cost on consumers without accomplishing copyright protection. Under the court ruling software developers can legally sell programs to consumers who want to exercise their rights. The only effect will be increased cost and inconvenience for the consumer, the CFA said.

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